George, meet Woodrow
George Bush As Woodrow Wilson: Caroline Glick makes the argument in the Jerusalem Post. Who knew?
There are many differences between the Bush and Wilson administrations, but three stand out in particular. First, by ignoring the real interests of the US and its allies in favor of utopian peace, Wilson's vision of postwar peace was a flight of fancy predicated on a rejection of reality. In contrast, by recognizing the threat that the global jihad constitutes for the Free World, Bush sought to shake the US and its allies out of their collective flight from reality in the 1990s and force them to contend with the world as it is.
But while Wilson's vision was unrealistic, he has to be credited for his unstinting devotion to it. In contrast, Bush never completely matched his visionary rhetoric to his actual policies. And today, increasingly abandoned by his supporters and undermined by his own advisers who reject his vision and insist on returning to fantasyland, Bush has apparently abandoned his own doctrine of war and peace.
The core of Glick's argument is that while President Bush went for the Big Brass Ring on the War on Terror he lacked the determination to see it through. And nothing is worse than making a leap you can't cover or starting anything you can't finish because the price of falling short of an ambitious program is falling flat on your face. And that, Glick suggests, is what has happened. Discouraged, President Bush has become too gun-shy to try anything and is retreating into the comforts of diplomacy, however futile these might be.
Leaving aside the question of whether Caroline Glick was right or wrong, it does not materially change her argument to use the replace "George Bush" with US polity. As John Edwards and Barack Obama pointedly emphasized in the Democrat Presidential debates, many of the Democrats had bought into the then wildly popular notion of bringing Democracy to the Middle East. And while GWB may have now be discouraged, it is only fair to point out that the Democrats were the first to fall away. First by dribbles and then in wholesale stampede.
Widening the definition of just is discouraged is important because it would be good to anticipate how the US political system will behave after GWB leaves office, a date which is looming increasingly closer. Will the US embrace "delusion" as Caroline Glick puts it, or with GWB gone, will it chart another course?
My own guess is that it will pretty much muddle along with an effort that is not wholly wasted, because field experience can never be completely ignored, but not quite decisive either. In any event it will not achieve strategic clarity again until some some sudden or cumulative catastrophe strikes either the US or some other part of the West. It's sad but natural. People learn to drive carefully only after they wrapped their car around a tree. One only hopes they eventually recover to gain wisdom from disaster.
One interesting example of delusion is was pinpointed by Tigerhawk.
See, for example, Nora Ephron's latest post over at the HuffPo -- "How To Foil A Terrorist Plot In Seven Simple Steps" -- and the many approving comments appended thereto. The "Ephronist" branch of the left wing apparently believes that we should not "entrap" potential terrorists. In other words, treating terrorism as a problem of law enforcement means that we should investigate and prosecute terrorists only after a successful attack. No interdiction allowed.
One commenter at Tigerhawk responded by adding: "your point is driven home today with Joe Biden's latest OP-Ed in the WSJ (either this weekend or today - I read them on a plane this morning.) As you read his commentary it is apparent that he is trying to talk tough on those States that would provide nuclear arms to terrorists, but only after one has been detonated on our soil." Another comments: "Our misadventure in Iraq provides the left with all the ammunition they need stifle future military responses to terrorism, Islamic or otherwise. Had we concentrated on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and discrete targets elsewhere, we wouldn't be subject to the drivel you refer to." That misadventure, if indeed it is, by historical terms would be one of the least costly in US history. Something else is going on here. Current society has become risk and failure averse. It wants instant results and will settle for nothing less. Osama Bin Laden understands this and it is part of his strategic calculation. And I'm bound to say, the man's right.